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Escape

Posted on: February 5, 2011

We had a dark, dark morning last Thursday. The weather was hot (again): 30+ degrees at breakfast time, ruling out the backyard as a means of escape for the fourth day straight. Feeling trapped inside the house was starting to do my head in. Combined with only four, interrupted, hours of sleep, I was not in the best frame of mind. The kids had also slept fitfully, which never bodes well.

We muddled through for a couple of hours, but it was merely the ‘calm’ before the storm. I could feel it coming. The rumbling started: one was hungry but the particular item they craved was out of stock. Then another wanted, no neeeeeeeded, every toy that the other touched. The lightening began to flash as tempers sparked, their bad moods clashing and clamouring spectacularly. After one tumble, two brawls, and some dedicated button-pushing, I was ready to join in the action and start hollering myself. The storm finally broke when Neave refused to go down for her morning sleep.

On the phone to Tom, I realised that the ability to ride the storm had forsaken me on this particular occasion – after all, it wasn’t really an unusual morning for us, but it was beyond my capabilities this time. I knew I was going to crack, and soon. I HAD to get us all out before we drowned in the flood of our tears and tantrums.

The only thing I could think to do was jump in the car and start driving. I headed up the mountain, with the radio blasting to drown out our continued sorrows (well, except for Neave’s – she was asleep before we even left the driveway). When the sobbing abated (mine and theirs), I realised I had to refine my plan beyond simply ‘getting out’. I hadn’t had time to pack much, only some fruit for morning tea, some water, hats, but no sunscreen. We would need to have lunch somewhere. I thought a cafe was probably beyond me, but I could perhaps manage (cringe) Maccas – to the desperate parent, an enclosed, sheltered playground is sometimes just enough compensation for the crap food… only, there is no Maccas up the mountains, except in Lithgow, and I didn’t want to travel that far. So I just kept driving, waiting for inspiration (or lightening) to strike me.

The good thing about going up the mountains is that you sometimes end up above the clouds. As we winded and wended our way up through each village, my dark mood lifted and my shoulders became lighter. We had left the storm far behind, and I started to see some possibilities. Like, “Hey, maybe it’s not quite so hot up here? I bet the kids would love to run around for a while.” Finding myself in Blackheath, I remembered the great park that my Dad used to take us to, and wondered if I could find it. Without really thinking too much, I let instinct guide me through the correct streets and turns, and, voila, we were here:

At a huge, PERFECT park, complete with a big grassy slope for running/rolling down, a creek, a duck pond, lots of trees, and several playgrounds (one with wooden equipment with really cool bridges and tunnels and stuff; two with more modern equipment; and one with old equipment restored from the 60’s, which I remembered being there as a kid, but which had been temporarily removed during the last decade). And the weather was a least 10 degrees cooler than at home. Why did I not think of this ages ago? Let’s stay ALL DAY!

To give an indication of how sad we had all been previously: as we drove into the car park, Tiernan noticed the playground and said, ‘Oh Mum, can I play?” When I replied that he could, he excitedly said, “Yay, I’m happy!” He said it in such a surprised and heart-felt way that I thought he must have doubted he would ever be happy again!

The kids happily romped from one piece of equipment to another, while Neave and I tried (and mostly failed) to stay in the shade. The park had been empty when we arrived, but a few families started to wander in, all exclaiming at the greatness of the park and the superbness of the weather (as it turns out, many were fellow lower-mountain-dwellers, escaping the heat – like it’s the ‘done’ thing and I totally didn’t even know).

Pretty soon the lack of sunscreen became an issue, so I rounded up the kids, promising that we would return after we found something to eat and some sunscreen. We ate at a cafe (everyone’s moods had improved so much that I felt brave enough to try it), and even made some friends, before returning to the park to find even more new friends waiting to play with us. Amazingly, all of the things that usually freak me out about wide, open spaces, were just not an issue: the kids were so good about coming back when I called, staying where I could see them, putting their hats back on when they dropped them, playing together… perfect! I sat with Neave, enjoying the fresh air and just not quite believing how perfectly this day was turning out.

When the last of our new friends had to leave, I decided that four hours at the park was probably enough to call it a day, and attempted to get the kids moving. Boy, did those clouds descend rapidly! First one, and then the other, ran off to hide in the creek-bed. I had no hope of getting them out with Neave in my arms, so had to take her to the boiling hot car and leave her (with the doors wide open) while I raced back to fish them out of the creek. Not happy, Jan! I found my blood boiling again, despite the hours of calm, collected bliss that I had been absorbing along with the Vitamin D and fresh air. “This is exactly why I hate going anywhere – they all go in separate directions and I feel powerless to stop them.” I muttered, only I probably used stronger language. Eventually, I managed to get them all safely into the car again, without totally losing it. The long, air-conditioned ride home helped me gain some more perspective. Admittedly, the kids were very tired after their long day (all were asleep within minutes of leaving the park), and perhaps we had stayed a little too long.

Despite our departing hiccup, it was a great day, and I will definitely be taking them back up to that wonderful park one day soon. I feel so proud of myself for spending almost an entire day outside in the open with them, by myself – this is something I rarely do. I’m also congratulating myself for turning what started out as an ugly, dark day into something fun and memorable for all of us.

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3 Responses to "Escape"

I remember going there are a kid too! I loved it. Is it near Blackheath pool? It’s a great idea to head up the mountains to escape the heat. I never think of it either!

Yep, that’s the one!

I remember totally cracking it when Raleigh was three months and we had something like 6 weeks over 35. I hate summer anyway, so I lost perspective on the whole thing, too. And I only had one child. Mum, Raleigh and I spent a few afternoons in Leura having coffee and enjoying the reprieve. What a great find that park is, though! I had no idea.

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